Obrazy na stronie

of art passed in review; and this was part of what Thorwaldsen meant, when he said that Rome was the artist's home.

He meant also, that there was an ideal in Rome which was not to be found any where else, and which, however high he might go, still rose far above his highest flight. He was never satisfied, with any work of his own but once. In the height of his career he had made his group of the Graces, which, like Venus, seem to have become a kind of touchstone with sculptors, ever since that beautiful old group in the cathedral of Siena was first brought back to the light.

Canora's group is well known. Thorwaldsen's was equally celebrated, but he felt, even when he had given the last touches to the marble, that it was by no means what he wanted it to be. Many years afterwards he received an order for a duplicate, which in the pressure of other engagements he put off from time to time, and might perhaps never have executed if he had not happened to find a favorable moment after his last return from Denmark. He went over it all carefully; the alterations were not great, amounting to little more than a few changes in the details of the grouping, and particularly, if I recollect aright, in the arms of the nymphs and the position of the Cupid. But, howerer slight, the effect was magical, and even the dullest eye would have been struck by it. I happened to call on him just as the change was completed. It was in the winter, and there was a party of strangers there to get a sight of the old gentleman, under pretext of seeing his pictures. “Wait a moment,” said he when he saw me, " I've got something to show you. They are only here," and an expressive shrug closed the sentence. In a few moments we were alone, and he led the way to his modelling room, took me by the hand, put me in the position he wanted, and “now,” said he, "look at that.” It was the group of the Graces in the fresh beauty of his last correction. “This was wrong, and this was wrong," continued he, pointing out the alterations, one by one,

and then seating himself like a boy, on his modelling steps, and turning to it again, "How do you like it? I never was satisfied before, ma ora son contento-si son contento."

One more anecdote and I have done; and I place it here not only as a record of Thorwaldsen, but as a tribute to a man whose memory I love as a friend, and revere as an American. I mean Cole. Cole passed a winter in Rome not long after Thorwaldsen's last return from Denmark, and repainted his 'Voyage of Life. He was naturally anxious to have Thorwaldsen see it, and I arranged the interview. At the appointed hour, ten in the morning, the old gentleman came. The four pictures were standing in a row, the first three completed, the last still wanting in some finishing touches, but all that was essential to the story was there. I never saw Cole so nervous as when he opened the door. Common criticisms he did not mind, but this was an ordeal to shake even his practised nerves. Thorwaldsen walked directly to the first piece, and taking the words from Cole's mouth as he began his explanation, went through the whole story, reading it from the canvas as readily as if the trees and flowers had been words. When he came to the last scene, he paused and stood silently before it, his eye resting with an expression of solemn musing on that cloud-veiled ocean which he too was to sail so soon.

Twice he returned to examine the other three, and twice returned to gaze again at the closing scene with the same deep expression of earnest sympathy.. I hardly ever passed an hour with him after that day, but what he would bring in some mention of Cole: “When I had heard from him ? what was he doing? A great artist! what beauty of conception, what an admirable arrangement of parts, what an accurate study of nature, what truth of detail.” I have often heard him speak of artists, friends and foes, the living and the dead, but never with such a glow of heartfelt enthusiasm as when he recalled his visit to the study of Cole.


ERE is a miracle ! or something, at

least, that has not happened before, and consequently, for which the world was not prepared; for the belief of King Solomon still prevails, that nothing will be which has not already been, and every new thing is incredible until it has been duplicated. Uncle Tom, therefore, is a

VOL. 1.-7.

miracle, his advent had not been foreseen nor foretold, and nobody believes in him now that he has come, and made good his claim to be considered somebody. But, Uncle Tom's superiors were not believed in at first, and he can well afford to bide his time.

Never since books were first printed

has the success of Uncle Tom been equalled; the history of literature contains nothing parallel to it, nor approaching it; it is, in fact, the first real success in bookmaking, for all other successes in literature were failures when compared with the success of Uncle Tom. And it is worth remembering that this first success in a field which all the mighty men of the earth have labored in, was accomplished by an American woman. Who reads an American book, did you inquire, Mr. Smith? Why, your comfortable presence should have been preserved in the world a year or two longer, that you might have asked, as you would have done, "who does not ?":

There have been a good many books which were considered popular on their first appearance, which were widely read and more widely talked about. But, what were they all, compared with Uncle Tom, whose honest countenance now overshadows the reading world, like the dark cloud with a silver lining. Don Quixote was a popular book on its first coming out, and so was Gil Blas, and Richardson's Pamela, and Fielding's Tom Jones, and Hannah More's Celebs, and Gibbon's Decline and Fall; and so were the Vicar of Wakefield, and Rasselas, and the Tale of a Tub, and Evelina, the Lady of the Lake, Waverley, the Sorrows of Werter, Childe Harold, the Spy, Pelham, Vivian Grey, Pickwick, the Mysteries of Paris, and Macaulay's History. These are among the most famous books that rose suddenly in popular esteem on their first appearance, but the united sale of the whole of them, within the first nine months of their publication, would not equal the sale of Uncle Tom in the same time.

But this success does not, by any means, argue that Uncle Tom is superior to all other books; but it is an unmistakable indication that it is a live book, and that it will continue to live when many other books which have been pronounced immortal, shall be dead and buried in an oblivion, from which there is no resurrection.

Uncle Tom is not only a miracle of itself, but it announces the commencement of a miraculous Era in the literary world. A dozen years ago, Uncle Tom would have been a comparative failure—there might not have been more than a million copies sold in the first year of its publication. Such a phenomenon as its present popularity could have happened only in the present wondrous age. It required all the aid of our new machinery to produce the phenomenon ; our steam-presses, steam-ships, steam-carriages, iron roads,

electric telegraphs, and universal peace among the reading nations of the earth. But beyond all, it required the readers to consume the books, and these have never before been so numerous; the next year, they will be more numerous still, and Uncle Tom may be eclipsed by the shadow of a new comer in the reading world. It is not Uncle Tom alone who has made the way for himself; the road to popularity has been preparing for him, ever since the birth of Cadmus; he has only proclaimed the fact that the great avenues of literature are all open, wide, and well paved, and free to all who have the strength to travel in them. Hereafter, the book which does not circulate to the extent of a million of copies, will be regarded as a failure. What the first edition of a popular novel will be by-and-by, when the telegraphic wires will be printing it simultaneously, in New-York, St. Petersburgh, San Francisco, Pekin and the interinediate cities, it is not easy to estimate. Then, when an international copyright shail secure the whole world to the popular author, for his market, authorship, we imagine, will be a rather more lucrative employment than it happens to be at present. The possibility of such a time does not appear half so improbable now, as the actualities of Uncle Tom would have sounded in the earlier days of the Edinburgh Review.

It is but nine months since this Iliad of the blacks, as an English reviewer calls Uncle Tom, made its appearance among books, and already its sale has exceeded a million of copies ; author and publisher have made fortunes out of it, and Mrs. Stowe, who was before unknown, is as familiar a name in all parts of the civilized world as that of Homer or Shakspeare. Nearly two hundred thousand copies of the first edition of the work have been sold in the United States, and the publishers say they are unable to meet the growing demand.

The book was published on the 20th of last March, and on the 1st of December there had been sold one hundred and twenty thousand sets of the edition in two volumes, fifty thousand copies of the cheaper edition in one, and three thousand copies of the costly illustrated edition. The publishers have kept four steam-presses running, night and day, Sundays only excepted, and at double the ordinary speed, being equal to sixteen presses worked ten hours a day at the usual speed. They keep two hundred hands constantly employed in binding Uncle Tom, and he has consumed five thousand reams of white paper, weighing seventy-five tons. They have paid to the author twenty thousand three hundred dollars as her share of the pro

fits on the actual cash sales of the first rival editions are claiming the attention of nine months. But it is in England the Parisians, one under the title of le where Uncle Tom has made his deepest Père Tom, and another of la Case de mark. Such has been the sensation pro l'Oncle Tom. But the fresh racy deduced by the book there, and so numer scriptions of the author, lose their vigor and ous have been the editions published, that force when rendered into French, though it is extemely difficult to collect the sta the interest of the narrative remains. The tistics of its circulation with a tolerable book reads better in German than in degree of exactness. But we know of French, and makes a deeper impression on twenty rival editions in England and the Teuton than upon the Gallic mind. Scotland, and that millions of copies have The Allgemein Zeitung, of Augsburg, been produced. Bentley has placed it says of it in the course of a long review: among his standard novels. Routledge “We confess that in the whole modern issues a handsome edition of it with a romance literature of Germany, England preface by the Earl of Carlisle ; and and France, we know of no novel to be this virtuous nobleman, with the blood called equal to this. In comparison with of all the Howards in his veins, sees noth this glowing eloquence, that never fails of ing out of the way in venting his indig- its purpose, this wonderful truth to nanation against American Slavery, in the tui the largeness of these ideas, and the preface of a book which is stolen from its artistic faultlessness of the machinery in author and published without her consent. this book, George Sand, with her SpiriBentley also tacks on an "indignant pre dion and Claudie, appears to us untrue face" to his edition, but it is stated that and artificial ; Dickens, with his but too he gives a per centage on the sale to the faithful pictures from the popular life of author, which gives him a right to be in London, petty; Bulwer, hectic and selfdignant, if he chooses. But the Earl of conscious. It is like a sign of warning Carlisle and Routledge might have re from the New World to the Old. In reserved their indignation against slavery, it cent times a great deal has been said about strikes us, until they had taken to honest an intervention of the youthful American courses themselves. Another publisher in Republic in the affairs of Europe. In liteLondon issues an edition and proposes to rature, the symptoms of such an intelshare profits with the author, while a lectual intervention are already perceppenny subscription has been got up as a tible." testimonial to her from all the readers of This is rather stronger praise, than any of the work in Great Britain and Ireland. the French critics have bestowed upon UnWe have seen it stated that there were cle Tom, one of whom thinks it inferior to thirty different editions published in Hildreth's Archy Moore. But Mrs. Stowe's London, within six months of the publi- epic is more read in Paris, just now, than cation of the work here, and one firm any other book, and it is said to have a keeps four hundred men employed in greater success than any similar production printing and binding it. There have since the publication of Paul and Virginia. been popular editions published also, in Uncle Tom has found its way into Italy, Edinburgh and in Glasgow; and it has where there are more American travellers been dramatized and produced on the than American books. Our chargé, at boards of nearly every theatre in the Sardinia, reports that it is making its mark Kingdom. Uncle Tom was played in there, as in other parts of Europe, in a six different theatres in London at the manner that astonishes the people. Two same time. An illustrated edition is now editions in Italian have been published in publishing in London by a bookseller Turin, and one of the daily papers was named Cassell, the illustrations being fur publishing it as a feuilleton, after the nished by the famous and inimitable manner of the Paris press. George Cruikshank. The same publisher What progress Uncle Tom has made in has issued an Uncle Tom Almanac, with the other northern nations of Europe, in designs by some of the most eminent ar Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and tists of London. The whole Beecher Lapland, we have not been informed; but family, of which Mrs. Stowe is a mem it is undoubtedly drawing its tears from the ber, have been glorified in the English eyes of the hyperboreans, as well as from periodicals, and are exciting as much atten the inhabitants of the mild south. India tion just now, as the Napoleonic family, and Mexico, and South America, have yet to which they bear great resemblance; to be Uncle Tomitized, for we have not one being a family of Kings and Queens, heard of any editions of Mrs. Stowe's great and the other of preachers and authors romance among the descendants of the sovereigns in the intellectual world.

Aztecs, the Gauchos, or the Brazilians. It Uncle Tom was not long in making his must spread over the whole earth, like the way across the British Channel, and four cholera, only reversing its origin and the


order of its progress. One of our newspa one of which the public were per critics compares the Uncle Tomific, heartily wearied, which was more unwelwhich the reading world is now suffering come to ears polite than that of slavery, from, to the yellow fever, which does not it would not have been easy to select. strike us as a very apt comparison, be Whoever touched it was sure of that cause the yellow fever is contined wholly cruelest of all martyrdoms contemptuous to tropical climes, while l'ncle Tom, like neglect. The martyr age of anti-slavery, the cholera, knows no distinction of cli as Harriet Martineau called it, had passed mate or race. He is bound to go; and away, and the more fatal age of indifferfuture generations of Terra-del Fuegians ence and contempt had succeeded. The and Esquimaux, will be making Christmas public had been inundated and surfeited presents at this season of the year, of Uncle with anti-slavery sentiment in all possible Tom's Cabin in holiday bindings.

forms, from the fierce denunciations of the Not the least remarkable among the Pilsbury Garrison school, down to the phenomena that have attended the publi mild objurgations of Lucretia Mott. Every cation of Uncle Tom has been the numer possible form of literary composition and ous works written expressly to counteract pictorial embellishment had been devoted the impressions which the book was sup to the subject, and no one either needed, or posed likely to make. This is something desired, any further enlightenment about entirely new in literature. It is one of it, when Uncle Tom's Cabin was anthe most striking testimonials to the in nounced to the world of novel readers. trinsic merit of the work that it should The chances were a thousand to one be thought necessary to neutralize its in against the success of the book. And fluence by issuing other romances to prove yet it has succeeded beyond all other that Uncle Tom is a fiction. Nothing books that were ever written. And the of the kind was ever before deemed neces cause is obvious; but, because it was obvisary. When Mrs. Radcliffe was bewitch ous and lay upon the surface, it has been ing the novel-reading world with her overlooked, there being an opinion among stories of haunted Castles there were no most men that truth must lie a long way romances written to prove that ruined out of reach. Castles were not haunted. But Uncle “When I am reading a book," says Tom had scarcely seen the light when Dean Swift, in his Thoughts on Various dozens of steel pens were set at work to Subjects, "whether wise or silly, it seems prove him an impostor, and his author to me to be alive and talking to me." an ignoramus. Some dozens of these anti This is the secret of the success of Uncle Uncle Tom romances have been published Tom's Cabin; it is a live book, and it talks and many more of them remain in ob to its readers as if it were alive. It first scure manuscript. We have had the awakens their attention, arrests their pleasure of looking over a score or two, thoughts, touches their sympathies, rouses which were seeking a publisher, and nearly their curiosity, and creates such an interall of them were written by women, upon est in the story it is telling, that they canthe principle of similia similibus.' The not let it drop until the whole story is told. writer of one of these unpublished anti And this is done, not because it is a tale Tom novels had made a calculation, the of slavery, but in spite of it. If it were innocent ingenuity of which tickled our the story of a Russian Serf, an evicted very midriff. She had ascertained that Milesian, a Manchester weaver, or an Italone hundred and fifty thousand copies of ian State prisoner, the result would be Uncle Tom's Cabin had been sold, and she the same. It is the consummate art of calculated that every reader of that ro the story teller that has given popularity mance would be anxious to hear the other to Uncle Tom's Cabin, and nothing else. side of the story of domestic slavery, and The anti-slavery sentiment obtruded by her romance being the silver lining of the the author in her own person, upon the Southern institution, she came to a pub notice of the reader, must be felt by lisher with a modest proposal based upon every one, to be the great blemish of a certain sale of one hundred and fifty the book; and it is one of the proofs of thousand copies of her work. But this its great merits as a romance, that it has good lady had not made a greater mis succeeded in spite of this defect. If Mrs. take than the majority of our reviewers Stowe would permit some judicious friend who have assumed that the “golden joys” to run his pen through these excrescences, of Mrs. Stowe's authorship were all owing and to obliterate a flippant attempt at Picto her having sung of Africa. Most un wickian humor, here and there, Uncle accountably they imagine that it is the Tom's Cabin would be a nearly perfect subject, and not the manner of its work of art, and would deserve to be treatment, that has fascinated the read placed by the side of the grcatest romaning public. But a more effete subject, ces the world has known. It has often

been spoken of by critics as deficient in freedom; and each page of the book is like artistic ability, but it is to its masterly a cartoon of charcoal sketches. It has construction, or artistic quality, that it is been objected to Uncle Tom, that all the indebted for its popularity. The over whites are impossibly wicked, and all the plus of popularity given to the work by blacks are impossibly good. But nothing its anti-slavery sentiment is not much could be further from the truth than such greater than the loss of readers from the an assertion; the most amiable of the sare source; but the evangelical senti characters are some of the slave owners, ment of the book, the conversions to holi while the most degraded and vile are, of ness through the influence of Uncle course, the slaves. There is no partisanTom's preaching, which the London ship apparent in the narrative proper, and Times cavilled at, is a greater cause of its if the author did not, occasionally, address popularity with the religious classes, we the reader in her own person, greatly to imagine, than the anti-slavery sentiment her own prejudice, we should hardly suswhich it contains. For the religious sen pect her of anti-slavery leanings. timent of Uncle Tom is in strict accord An ingenious writer in the Literary ance with the theology of nine-tenths of World has done Mrs. Stowe the favor to the Christian world. In all the great re point out an instance of undeniable, but, quisites of a romance it is decidedly supe we presume, unconscious plagiarism, on rior to any other production of an Ameri-· her part, for which she should feel hercan pen.

self under great obligations to him. He There are not, in Uncle Tom's Cabin any proves pretty clearly, that the weakest of the delicacies of language which impart part of Uncle Tom has been borrowed so great a charm to the writings of Irving from Mrs. Sherwood. Little Eva is, unand Hawthorne, nor any descriptions of questionably, nothing more than an adapscenery such as abound in the romances tation of the Little Henry of the English of Cooper, nor any thing like the bewil lady; and, for our own part, we think it dering sensuousness of Typee Melville; very creditable to Mrs. Stowe that such but there are broader, deeper, higher and

is the case.

The little Nells, little Pauls, holier sympathies than can be found in little Henrys, and little Evas, are a class of our other romances; finer delineations of people for which we care but little. Dickcharacter, a wider scope of observation, a ens has much to answer for in popularizing more purely American spirit, and a more the brood of little impossibilities, who are vigorous narrative faculty. We can name as destitute of the true qualities of childno novel, after Tom Jones, that is superi hood as the crying babies which are hung or to Uncle Tom in constructive ability. up in the windows of toy-shops. One The interest of the narrative begins in the Topsy is worth a dozen little Evas. But first page and is continued with consum it is a proof of the genius of the author, mate skill to the last. In this respect that every character she introduces into Thackeray is the first of cotemporary her story is invested with such a distinct English novelists, and Bulwer deserves individuality that we remember it as a the next mention. But the commence new acquaintance, and feel a strong inment of all of Thackeray's stories is dull terest in its fate. and uninviting, while Bulwer, who opens We have heard of almost innumerable briskly, and excites the attention of the instances of the power of Uncle Tom, but reader in the beginning, flags and grows one of the finest compliments that has dull at the close. Mrs. Stowe, like Field been ever paid to its fascinations was from ing, seizes upon the attention at the out a Southern Senator and a slave-holder. set, and never lets it go for a moment Somebody had persuaded him to read the until the end. It matters not by what book, and, on being asked what he thought means this is done, it is the chief object of it, he merely replied that he should be aimed at by the romancer, and the great very sorry for his wife to read it. A friend est artist is he who does it in the most of ours was sleeping one night in a strange effectual manner; if the writer of fiction house, and being annoyed by hearing fails in this point, he fails altogether. And somebody in the adjoining chamber alterthe same may be said of every other wri nately groaning and laughing, he knocked ter; the mind must first be amused before upon the wall and said, “Hallo, there ! it can be instructed.

What's the matter ? Are you sick, or In no other American book that we have reading Uncle Tom's Cabin ?" The stranread, are there so many well-delineated ger replied that he was reading Uncle American characters; the greater part of

Tom. them are wholly new in fiction. The mis Apart from all considerations of the chievous little imp Topsy, is a sort of in- subject, or motive, of Uncle Tom's Cabin, fantine Caliban, and all the other darkies the great success of the book shows what are delineated with wonderful skill and may be accomplished by American au

« PoprzedniaDalej »